Flying start to our 2018 season

What a start to 2018 it’s been for the Top Step Communications team, with the proverbial cobwebs having been well and truly blown away by what’s gone on so far with our motorsport clients.

Kicking off the year (on January 3, in fact), we were proud to help ambitious Essex team Fox Motorsport announce their return to the British GT Championship in style.

fox tweet

As the first team to bring the brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT4 to UK shores, the news attracted international attention as well as strong coverage in motorsport bibles, Motorsport News and Autosport and a stint on BBC Radio for Team Principal Paul McNeilly.

The Fox news didn’t end there either as racing newcomer Matt Konczos confirmed his plans to contest the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, his and the team’s messaging and timelines being co-ordinated by us with Ginetta themselves to ensure maximum coverage.

While this was going on, we were busy assisting the brilliant Frozenspeed Motorsport Photography grow their brand with the latest in a series of pictorial blogs, this one focused on MotoGP.

Frozenspeed pic

A carefully-structured social-media strategy has helped the business gain greater awareness, increase its follower numbers, drive more traffic than ever before to a selection of online galleries and sell the superb 2018 wall calendar.

We’ve been proud to work with seven-time British Touring Car Champions WSR for the past two seasons and entered our third year with Dick Bennetts’ team in flying style.

Being able to lead planning for the announcement an ultra-strong line-up of Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan – co-ordinated with BMW UK to ensure additional reach – brought yet more international attention for the team.

WSR-007

And then it was on to the annual Autosport International Show which does seem to be back to somewhere near its best after a period of decline; at least that was the impression we got, read our blog on that very subject to find out more.

Fresh from the team’s driver announcement the previous day, Bennetts was in demand in Birmingham as we orchestrated a series of interviews from media as far afield as Australia.

1818 - Dick Bennetts with Speedcafe

We’d planned the announcement for the previous day to not only give WSR ownership of the BTCC news cycle for a full 24 hours (rather than being drowned out by the various announcements and livery unveils at ASI), but to also ensure that both Turkington and Jordan – attending the show to mark the 60th anniversary season of the BTCC – could speak at length about their excitement to a fully-engaged audience of 100,000 visitors over four days.

While that was going on, we were also supporting JAS Motorsport in the debut of the brand-new Honda Civic Type R TCR at the Dubai 24 Hours.

New Civic

Putting JAS TCR Project Leader Mads Fischer in front of a global audience on the 24H Series live stream, co-ordinating a supply of high-quality photography and carefully devising and executing a social media plan around the event ensured that the car’s debut achieved global coverage in the motorsport media before and after the event.

It also helped JAS to achieve their highest-ever January Facebook and Twitter engagement figures and grow their follower numbers significantly on both platforms.

Finally (because that’s all not enough, is it?); the exciting announcement of 15-year-old Gordie Mutch – surely the next big thing in Scottish racing – graduating to the Ginetta GT5 Challenge as part of a four-strong line-up at Fox Motorsport.

Gordie image

Coverage was secured in the Scottish Sun and Autosport among other major outlets, thanks to careful establishment of influential media contacts. 

And breathe….

Or, at least, that’s what you’d think. Our season is just getting started with the planning of busy programmes in the FIA World Touring Car Cup, British Touring Car and GT Championships (plus their support categories), national and continental TCR series and the 24H Series all underway.

If we can help you achieve your media objectives, get in touch now via info@topstepcommunications.co.uk or via our contact us page

How to handle bad publicity

While we all hope that everyone will only say nice things about us, sadly it’s not always the case.

Sometimes you will do something wrong, or – perhaps more importantly – someone will feel you’ve done something wrong, and the result will be a tonne of bad publicity.

It’s vital to plan now for what might happen in the future and how you will handle it. To get you started, here are our top tips for dealing with bad publicity:

Plan in advance

Depending on what your business is or does, you can consider what could go wrong with a relative level of ease. For example, if you’re a motorsport team, think about the potential for accidents on the track, contract disputes with drivers or sponsors, or a team member saying something out-of-line on social media; all of which have the potential to cause bad publicity.

By setting out how to approach a variety of problems, you’ll ensure that you’re better prepared for when a time of crisis or uncertainty occurs.

Have someone on your side

Working alongside a PR agency, such as Top Step Communications, is invaluable during times of bad publicity. Firstly, our proactive PR work will have already ensured that there is a regular stream of good, positive news about you widely available, meaning we can be certain that people won’t only be hearing negative things about you.

Secondly, when something does occur, our team of experts will be quick to react. We’ll know what to say when, through which channels to say it, who in your organisation should say it and how they should deliver it. Every detail needs to be considered and our years of experience means we can advise you accordingly.

Alternatively, you don’t have to work with us on a regular basis to have assistance when things go wrong. If you find yourself in a crisis situation and subjected to bad publicity, get in touch immediately. We can help you quickly and simply to assist as soon as possible.

Don’t say too much

A deluge of negative messages through social media makes it all too tempting to defend yourself via the same platform. But there’s real danger in saying too much. Have one statement, deliver it and then leave it there.

Of course, you should monitor the reaction and decide how to respond if you see inaccurate reporting. Each situation requires a judgement on how or what to say, but in times of crisis, less can sometimes be more.

Learn from it

Don’t just pretend it never happened; instead examine exactly what did occur. Think about the actions that enhanced your reputation and those that simply increased the negative publicity. Taking onboard the lessons will ensure that you are prepared for the next time.

And don’t be afraid to get back out there and start promoting yourself positively again – it’s one of the key things you must do after a period of bad publicity.

If you’d like to chat to us about how we can help to promote your business in the best ways then get in touch today!

Why Floersch’s Facebook fine matters for motorsport

It’s been dubbed the most over-the-top penalty applied to a motorsport competitor in the last decade but, whatever your view, the €5,000 fine handed down to Sophia Floersch’s at last weekend’s ADAC Formel 4 event at Oschersleben is a cautionary tale for everyone. It also showcases the very real need for PR support no matter what level of motorsport you are competing at.

If you missed it, here’s the video. During Friday practice, 16-year-old Floersch narrowly missed a recovery vehicle that drove across the circuit as the Mucke Motorsport driver approached at high speed.

Accusations and counter-accusations flew on-site about whether or not Floersch had slowed down sufficiently during red-flag conditions, and then about whether the flags had even been displayed in the first place.

The whole situation accelerated when Floersch posted the on-board footage of the incident on her Facebook page, creating embarrassment for race officials that only intensified as race fans and professional drivers shared and commented on the video. It swiftly went viral; a thread about the incident on Reddit achieved more than 4,000 comments.

Possibly as a result of the red faces caused by negative comments from people such as 1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill to his 50,000 plus Twitter followers, officials decided to issue the huge monetary fine to Floersch for ‘uploading the video without the permission of ADAC’.

Initially reported by Floersch as €20,000 – something that caused fans great ire and again called into question how highly safety is valued versus broadcast rights – the DMSB, Germany’s motor racing federation, later stated that the fine was actually €5,000. Whatever the amount, it’s a huge amount for a young driver to have to pay.

It all could have been handled differently – as was seen in the FIA World Touring Car Championship round in Portugal two weeks ago.

Dutchman Tom Coronel (yes, that would be the guy who filmed a live video on his mobile phone during the warm-down lap at the Nurburgring last year, was fined €5000 for it on safety grounds and then successfully crowd-funded his penalty money before donating it to charity instead), crashed into an ambulance during a practice session, threading a needle between two unprotected road signs that should have been protected by a crash barrier.

Sensing an easy PR win, Coronel and the WTCC organisers released footage of the incident from multiple angles through both of their social media channels. The footage went viral, boosted the profile of both driver and series and possibly even led to an increased interest in the race itself.

We’re not here to say one tactic is right and the other wrong, but there are clearly two issues in play regarding the Floersch incident.

Firstly, the embarrassment factor. At a time when the details of the incident were sketchy, Floersch’s social media actions could be taken as seriously barbed against the race organisers which is typically not something they stand for.

Secondly, there are rights issues in play, and if a competitor has signed up to contest a series in which video content is deemed to be the property of the race organisers, or a main broadcast partner, then these are rules that must be obeyed just as rigidly as not jumping the start of a race.

The fine, it seems, could have been avoided had the team or driver had media support that was aware of the guidelines regarding video. It is one of the many roles of such a support structure to know these rules inside out, or to ask explicitly if they don’t.

The sheer magnitude of the penalty shows how seriously the DMSB takes its Ts and Cs regarding footage, and how little it likes to be left red-faced. And they’re certainly not the only organisation with this attitude.

So ask yourself; is it really worth it? If you don’t know, perhaps you’d benefit from someone who does.

At Top Step Communications, we’ve dealt with such red tape, pushed the boundaries, but always stayed on the right side of officialdom. We can help you to do the same while promoting yourself.

Get in touch with us today to find out more by emailing info@topstepcommunications.co.uk

Why does your motorsport business need a blog?

Nowadays, most businesses within the motorsport industry have a top-quality website. Well-designed and with all the info about your company, you may feel like that’s all you need.

However, while a great look and easy to navigate design is crucial, one thing you might have overlooked is the need for a blog. Here’s why you need one…

Google likes it

If you want your website to appear high up in search results then you need to do all you can to attract the attention of search engines. Google processes over 40,000 queries a second – more than any other search engine provider – so it’s critical to address what they’re looking for. While the algorithms used by Google change frequently (making in-depth SEO tricky to master), we know that Google always likes fresh content. Static content means not putting your head above the water to signal ‘I’m here’; the result being a fall down the rankings. A regularly updated blog, however, makes your website stand up and be counted.

It can help customers to find you

Blogs should be at least 500 words long and major on the kind of thing your existing (or desired) customers are likely to search for when looking for the services you provide. Include those key phrases and topics and the result will be a more visible website when the searches are made.

It can move people around your website

A good blog isn’t only about the content, but about what you include within it. A blog should contain at least one or two links to other parts of your website, where customers can find further information. This ensures their time on your website doesn’t just end on your blog, but encourages them to look more at what you have to offer.

It’s your own platform

A blog is a great way of showing potential or existing customers more about who you are and what you do. It’s an opportunity to show off what you know and become a thought leader in the area you work in.

It gives you something to share on social media

A blog is a great thing to share on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and can be used to start a conversation with potential customers. Remember that social media is fast-moving and not everyone sees everything you post; so share your blog a few times to get the maximum number of eyes on it.

The downside…

Blogs take commitment, with new content being published every couple of weeks to have the desired effect. We know that’s not easy – after all, you have plenty of more important things to do, right? You might also struggle for ideas.

That’s where we can help. Our content-marketing specialists are blog-writing experts. As former journalists we understand what makes a good story, how to tell that story in an engaging way – and, importantly, how to promote your business while doing so. Look, we’re doing it right now! If you want to benefit from all of the above reasons why you should have a blog, then get in touch with us today.